January 12th, 2012
By Jennifer Olin, BSN, RN
Public service can take on many definitions. I think most nurses working in hands-on care would say they are serving the public through healthcare. Now, one nurse in Florida is part of the more traditional definition—she is serving as an elected government official. Democratic Representative Daphne D. Campbell ran for office in Miami, won, and now serves the Florida public both ways.
Campbell recently garnered attention by bringing House Bill 1195 to fruition. HB1195 supports authorizing Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners to participate in the involuntary commitment of individuals for mental health examination if they show signs of harming themselves or others. In Florida, this is called the Baker Act. It can be initiated by judges, law enforcement officials, physicians, or mental health professionals, including social workers.
I see many of these people are not even trained in healthcare, is that what made you take up this cause?
”It’s crazy. The Baker Act says psychiatrists, marriage and family counselors, social workers and even physician's assistants can have a patients involuntarily committed, but a trained, licensed nurse practitioner cannot. If fact, the funny part of the whole thing is a regular nurse who works in psych can but an NP with an advanced degree cannot. Nurse practitioners are fully empowered professionals who are licensed to be able to provide unrestricted high quality healthcare.
”Hopefully with the help of the citizens of Florida, nurses, hospitals, we will be able give nurse practitioners the same authority as social workers and marriage and family therapists and PAs.”
What made you seek public office in the first place?
”I owned a medical center from 1993-2003. I was overwhelmed by what I saw nurse practitioners were so limited in what they could do. The law said if there was no doctor on site they could not prescribe. If the doctor was at lunch they were not allowed to prescribe. For example, a child would be brought in with a terrible ear ache, inflamed, crying and if the doctor wasn’t there the nurse practitioner could not give the child Tylenol with codeine. Instead of paying 50 dollars for a clinic visit they would have to go to the emergency room for 500 dollars.
” I said let me come to Tallahassee to help nurses. When I got here helped the Florida Medical Association pass the medical malpractice bill. Now, they say they will support our bill for nurse practitioners. “
Do you think adding just this one authorization ability for NPs is that important?
”Nurse practitioners could save the state of Florida 339 million dollars if they were allowed to work to their full scope of practice. We ended up removing controlled substance prescribing abilities in order to get the Florida Medical Association’s support for HB1195. The FMA said if they want to prescribe let them go to medical school.”
Presecriptive abilities for nurse practitioners in Florida is a ongoing battle that Campbell plans to continue fighting.
”The future for nurses in Florida could be great if we just give them what they need. Let NPs have their full scope of practice. In 48 other states they prescribe controlled substances, it’s only Florida and Alabama where they cannot. “
It sounds like you are very committed to the future of nursing in Florida.
”I was an RN for 30 years. I studied in Port au Prince, Haiti. I graduated from nursing school in 1981 and moved to New York, then I moved to Miami in 1987. I was a critical care nurse: MICU, PICU, ER, NICU, SICU. I was a hard working nurse. I know the importance of helping nurses to move forward.
”I am doing all I can, pushing all my power, working hard 24/7 to support nursing. The healthcare system is broken. I want nurses to jump on it an see if they can get it back on its feet. RNs must get involved Most representatives don’t’ really know anything about healthcare so do they know how to do a good job for healthcare—No!”
”Nurses need to get involved in politics. Nurses need to support one another—join together to be a force. “